More than 500 varieties of native grapes. A multi-millennia-old winemaking tradition in clay vessel or qvevri. In fact, Georgia have been making wines almost forever. Then around 320 AD, Saint Nino of Cappadocia arrived in Georgia with a cross made of a vine and wine became a symbol of Christianity. Thereafter, wines has been playing a vital role in the celebration of religious events and rituals and is now an integral part of Georgia’s cultural identity and heritage.
Over the summer, we received a new shipment of Georgian wines and what’s exciting about these new wines is that they epitomize the diversity of the Georgian production: Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane, Kisi, Saperavi from Kakheti in the East, Tsitska and Krakhuna from Imereti in the West, Chinuri from Kartli in the Center, and a Alexandria/Mudzhuretuli blend from Racha in the North.
Rkatsiteli is to Georgia what Chardonnay is to California. It’s the “King of Kakheti” as Aleksi Tsikhilishvili explained to us when we visited his cellar last May. It’s Georgia’s most widely planted and most popular white grape variety. It has great structure and spiciness and becomes creamy, nutty and tannic when aged in qvevri. We just received an organic qvevri-aged Rkatsiteli from Wine Thieves and a new vintage of doqi Rkatsiteli Qvevri. Thanks to their tannic structure, they work very well with roasted meat, stew with walnut sauce, and any cheese.
If Rkatsiteli is the “King of Kakheti”, Mtsvane is its queen according to Aleksi. It’s an ancient Georgian grape variety, even older than Rkatsiteli according to some ampelographers. Full-bodied and yet more delicate and elegant than Rkatsiteli, it exhibits some spicy tea-like aromas when aged in qvevri. Check our new vintage of Mtsvane Qvevri from doqi.
Kisi is an exquisite rare variety from Kakheti. Floral and exotic, with notes of orange zest, it has a large aromatic spectrum. Try the newly arrived Kisi wines from doqi and Wine Thieves, they’re absolutely delicious with seafood and Asian cuisine.
Chinuri is from the Kartli region in Central Georgia where the country’s capital Tbilisi is situated. Maybe named for the color of olive tree leaves (“chin” in old Georgian), the grape has high acidity, herbal notes and fruity aromas. Gotsa Family Wines makes an organic qvevri aged Chinuri that is savory, nutty, and tannic with a beautiful amber color.
Tsitska and Krakhuna are two grape varieties from Imereti in Western Georgia. They’re both late ripening with ripe fruit aromas. Amiran Vepkhvadze farms small plots of these rare varietals without chemical treatments and ferments them in locally made qvevris. The result is amber in color, richly textured and aromatic. Also from Amiran, Otskhanuri Sapere is a rare, indigenous red varietal found only in Western Georgia. The wine is deeply colored with tannins and very high acidity. It can age very well and be kept in the cellar for several decades.
Last but not least, Saperavi is Georgia’s most famous red grape. Deeply colored, full-bodied, with high acid and full flavors of black berries, mint, tobacco, pepper. When aged in qvevri, it acquires a rich, velvety texture. Try the amazing 2007 Saperavi made by the Shavnabada Monastery. On a more fruity side, doqi has both a qvevri and non qvevri Saperavi and Wine Thieves just released an organic qvevri Saperavi.
There’s a fierce competition between Kindzmarauli and Khvanchkara as to which wine is the best sweet wine in Georgia and both top the list of Stalin’s — born Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili in Gori, Georgia — most favorite wines.
Kindzmarauli is a microzone in the Kakheti wine district along the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. It is famous for its dark semi-sweet wines made from Saperavi.
Khvanchkara is a appellation located in Racha, Western Georgia on the southern slopes of the Lechkhumi mountain range with vineyards planted between 450 and 750 meters (between 1500 and 2500ft) above sea level. The wine is made from the Alexandria and Mudzhuretuli red varieties and is vinified naturally sweet by keeping fermenting grapes in cool temperatures.
Set up a nice cheese platter with aged Cheddar, Blue Cheese, and nuts and compare the newly released Kindzmarauli and Khvanchkara 2017 both from doqi and tell us which one you prefer. Gaumarjos! To your victory!